Director: Mitchell Altieri
Screenplay: Mitchell Altieri, Cory Nauf & Phil Flores
Starring: Evan Crooks, Monty Geer, Michael Hudson, Kristina Emerson, Leore Hayon, Alisa Torres, Jenna Haze
BBFC Classification: 15
The Butcher Brothers, the writing and directing collective (not actual brothers!) responsible for genre fare The Hamiltons, The Violent Kind and Holy Ghost People, return with another shocker this time involving skater kids, a weird cult and that movie trend that seems to be here to stay, found footage. Back in the 70s a very messed up dude by the name of Ernest Plainsong claimed he could see demons lurking within people and set about forming a cult to convince people of this and then slay those contaminated with demons. Holed up in a desert compound, Plainsong and his followers practiced all kinds of occult and sexual rituals before eventually turning on one another. Cut to present day and a skater gang, armed with their boards, a video camera and a never ending capacity to utter the F-word, head out into the desert hoping to skate an infamous empty swimming pool and make a video out of it. Said pool just happens to be on the now abandoned Plainsong compound and it’s not long before weird things start appearing on the camera, the group start turning on each other and supernatural forces begin making themselves known.
Despite an excessive amount of extreme shaky cam and utterances of the F-word (with everyone seemingly trying to out F-bomb one another: surely not every skater dude is an F-bombing douchebag!) in the opening scenes, Raised by Wolves soon settles these flaws to tell a creepy story and become an effective shocker. While the idea of the gang filming everything is stretched a little far (though is given credence by the fact they use the light on the camera to find their way through the dark and that many of the weird things happening only seem to appear through the camera lens), the filming gimmick helps to create the feeling of the group being isolated, especially once night falls and they are essentially cut off from the outside world. One does warm to the characters once the shit hits the fan with Monty Greer (the sort of nice-guy hero of the group) and Evan Crooks (the cameraman) being particularly good and all the shaky cam excess does relent once the crew get to the compound.
The Butcher Brothers stage some effective scares that are more lingeringly creepy than out right gory (that bit with the glowing eyes!) and there is a constant sense of dread and doom throughout that also helps to maintain the creep factor. A skater group going to skate in an abandoned cult compound makes for a novel set-up and setting meaning Raised by Wolves feels fresh and stands out from the glut of other found footage films clogging up the DVD market. There are some cool artistic flourishes as well: the opening prologue nicely sets up Plainsong’s history via the effective use of text and still photographs and a bit of archival footage showing the surviving member of the cult’s massacre (played by porn star Jenna Haze no less!) being interviewed by the police.
While many may be reaching found footage fatigue, Raised by Wolves is genuinely sinister, an original enough entry to stand out from the crowd and recommended to those looking for some creepy cult kicks.
Raised by Wolves is out on DVD on August 18th, released by Signature Entertainment. No special features are contained on the disc.
Review by Andrew Skeates